5 Keys to a Proper Putting Setup

By Todd Kolb
August 8, 2017

Five Keys to a Proper Putting Setup

Having Tour Precision in putting all starts with a proper putting setup, which is why these 5 Proper Putting Setup Keys can help you start shaving strokes.

If you’re struggling to master the putt, you’re in good company. Every golfer knows what it’s like to fall too short or too long on a putt that seems like it should have been so easy. If you find yourself missing the cup time and again, it may be time to focus less on the motion of your swing and more on the strength of your putting setup.

Start saving 4-5-6 or even MORE strokes off your rounds today!

I am going to share the five key components of a quality putting setup. While putting is the most individualized skill in golf and there is no “one size fits all” method, these basic fundamentals are likely to help you achieve a more controlled, precise putt no matter who you are.

Before we can talk about setting up your shot, however, we need to make sure your grip isn’t compromising your form.


“While there is no ‘One Size Fits All’ method, these basic fundamentals are likely to help you achieve a more controlled, precise putt no matter who you are.”

Todd Kolb

The Grip

The way you hold your club influences the quality of your putt from setup to swing, so it’s worth taking the time to perfect your grip.

When learning the proper grip, hold the putter out in front of you so it’s parallel to the ground and perpendicular to your body. Bend your arms at the elbows and position the putter shaft so that is in line with your forearm, as if the putter is an extension of your body.


Hold the grip in the palm of your right (trail) hand. Focus on positioning the grip in the palms rather than the fingers. To do this, position the shaft along the lifeline of your trail hand.

Next, place the left (lead) hand on the grip above your trail hand. Position your middle and index fingers along the length of the putter.  Then tuck your ring and pinky fingers around the back of the club. This is what we refer to as “two fingers down, two fingers around.”

At this point, both of your thumbs should naturally rest on top along the shaft. Scoot your hands toward each other on the shaft until both thumbs are almost side-by-side.  Your hands should look as if they are in prayer position.

Once you’ve mastered the grip, you can move on to learning proper setup.

A Proper Putting Setup

A quality setup features five key components.

1. The putter shaft is an extension of the forearm

Notice what your wrists are doing. You want your putter in line with your forearm. Any bending or twisting in the wrist will compromise that straight line . . . as well as the quality of your putting stroke.

Fortunately, a proper grip on the club forces you to accomplish this component naturally.

Having the putter in line with the forearms can really improve your putting setup

2. Keep the Shoulders Level

Many new golfers make the mistake of positioning their trail shoulder too low. Fight that instinct. A quality putt depends on your ability to create an even pendulum motion on your swing, with the putter moving the same distance and at the same degree of arc on both the backward and forward swings.

Level shoulders help you accomplish this.

Dropping the trail shoulder in the putting setup is a common mistake. Keep the shoulders level.

3. Keep the hands below the shoulders 

When you are in position to swing, your hands should be on the same vertical line as your shoulders. Some golfers are more comfortable with their hands just outside the shoulder line (toward the ball).  This position works just as well.

Be careful, however, to never position the hands inside the shoulder line (toward the body).  This will hurt your motion.

The hands should fall below the shoulders, not in front of or inside the shoulder line

4. Hold the Putter in a Neutral Position

This is one of the most overlooked and most important components of an effective putting setup. Most putters are made with a loft of about 2-4 degrees on the putter face. This loft is built into the club to help you. However, you only get the benefits of that design when the putter is in a neutral position.

If you bring your hands out in front of the ball, leaning the putter towards the target, you de-loft the putter. If you bring your hands back behind the ball, leaning the putter away from the target, you add more loft than you want. Focus on holding the putter in a neutral position.

Having a neutral putter grip allows you to use the putter as it was intended, with the loft built into it

5. Place the Ball Below Your Lead Eye

When you take your setup, position the ball so it’s directly underneath your lead eye. This may be difficult to judge at first, but you can test the placement.  Just hold a second ball at your lead eye, then drop it straight down. If it hits the first ball, you know you are positioning the eyes correctly.  If not, adjust accordingly and try again.

The ball should be positioned below the lead eye at address. To check, drop a secondary ball from the lead eye and it should land on the ball

Between the grip and the five components of the setup, this may seem like a lot to keep in mind when you’re out on the putting green. The good news is that once you have mastered the grip, you won’t have to work as hard to remember things like shaft position and shoulder levels, because those elements will happen naturally.


So, master the grip, practice quality setup until it’s second nature. Then get ready to see your golf scores go down.


  1. A great help – thank you!

  2. Todd:
    Always enjoy your lessons- short and sweet and easy to follow and test with drills you provide- So I have adopted a reverse grip that seems to steady me with left hand low and wondering if there are suggestions about employing the grip you demonstrated in that fashion- I have never really worked on a putter grip and it really does seem to stabilize as you suggest- any thoughts-

  3. Don,
    Thanks for asking. A lead hand low putting style is solid and works for many golfers. You should be able to implement the same concepts in the putting set up with the lead hand low grip.

  4. Our pleasure!

  5. Todd, this was clearly the best synopsis of a good putting grip and position that I have seen. The five recommendations were excellent.

  6. Kent,

    Thanks for the kind words! We are here to help. Do you follow us on YouTube? See here https://youtu.be/LVonuDlwnGc

  7. I noticed in the past two wek you have posted two differing putting styles one is the normal pendulum swing and the other is the strong right arm trigger style. Personally you call both your recommended putting style. Which one is your pick. Personally I favor the trigger style, strong right hand and fire the trigger. not much follow throu.

  8. Your lessons have improved my golf from shooting in the mid 90s to lower 80s. Thanks and keep the lessons coming.

  9. Thanks Phil, appreciate the kind words…do you follow us on YouTube? https://youtu.be/Qvhk0TjykCA

  10. Bill,

    Good question. In general for avid golfers I prefer the right arm trigger style. Here is a good place for more information https://youtu.be/BvIQKOxvK3s

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